Facebook Messenger is no longer a just a way for you to share a few jokes with your friend. Depending on the platform you’re using, it can read your SMS messages, make voice calls, and even make video calls.
If it’s all become too much and you’re fed up with being pestered every day, you might want to take a temporary break from Facebook. In other words, it’s time to go invisible.
But how? With so many versions of the app, it’s easier said than done. In this article, we’re going to show you how to appear offline on Facebook on some of the most popular operating systems.
Using the Facebook Web App
If you still log on to Facebook through a web browser, you’re in the minority. According to the company’s most recent set of statistics, almost 90 percent of its daily active users now access the network on mobile devices.
Perhaps that’s why Facebook seems to have neglected the chat aspect of the web app. Frankly, it’s confusing.
Despite the Messenger brand name being part of the Facebook lexicon since 2013, Facebook still hasn’t managed to create a unified experience for people using browsers. There’s Facebook Chat and Facebook Messenger.
The two apps link to the same set of messages in your inbox, but they have slightly different sets of options and work in slightly different ways.
One of the ways in which they differ is how to appear invisible.
Note: Appearing invisible on Facebook won’t affect your ability to interact with Messenger bots.
First, let’s look at how to appear offline on Messenger.
To get started, click the Messenger shortcut in the panel on the left-hand side of your screen. Alternatively, you can select the appropriate icon in the blue bar at the top of the Facebook home screen, then click on See all in Messenger.
Once you’re looking at your Messenger home screen, you need to locate the gear icon in the upper left-hand corner. Click on it and choose Settings.
A new window will pop up. Next, you need to locate the Active Status section and slide the toggle next to Show when you’re active into the Off position. Click on Done when you have finished.
It’s also possible to become invisible on Facebook Chat by using the tools on the main homescreen.
Oddly, Facebook chat actually offers a more granular level of control over your visibility. It seems strange given it’s the only place across the entire social network where Facebook still uses the Chat brand name extensively.
The chat feature takes up the panel on the right-hand side of the screen. To go offline, click the gear icon in the very bottom right-hand corner (next to Search).
This is where you can get specific. You’ll see two important options you need to pay attention to: Turn Off Chat and Turn Off Video/Voice Calls. These are hopefully self-explanatory. You can disable one and leave the other enabled if you wish.
Interestingly, you can specify certain people for whom you want to appear online or offline. Click Turn Off Chat and a new window will pop up.
Selecting one of the bottom two options—Turn off chat for all contacts except or Turn off chat for some contacts only—lets you control who exactly can and cannot see you. Just type the people’s names into the box and click OK when you’re ready.
Similarly, the Turn Off Video/Voice Calls option also offers extra levels of granularity. When you click on the link, you can choose to disable the feature for one hour, until 8AM the following day, or until you turn it back on manually.
Lastly, it’s also worth noting the Block Settings option. It lets you completely prevent certain people from contacting you. Just go to Block Settings > Block users to set it up.
Using the Facebook Windows Store Apps
Like on mobile, there are two versions of Facebook in the Windows Store; a basic Facebook app and a Messenger-specific app.
Ready to be confused? Good.
If you use the main Facebook app, you can only appear invisible using the Facebook Chat method I described above. There’s no way to access Messenger.
If you only use the Messenger app (and perhaps don’t use Facebook at all), click on the People icon in the bottom right-hand corner, then select the Active tab at the top of the page. Slide the toggle next to your name to suit your preferences.
Using the Facebook Android and iOS Apps
Although the Android and iOS Messenger apps still have some very minor design differences, the functionality of the two apps is almost identical. The process for making yourself invisible while chatting is the same on both platforms.
Once again, the process isn’t obvious if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s almost as if Facebook doesn’t want you to appear offline.
Fire up the app, and you’ll see a list of all your most recent chats. In either the top right-hand corner (on Android) or top left-hand corner (on iOS), you will see your profile photo. Tap on it.
Next, scroll down until you find a setting labeled Active Status and tap a second time. A new window will open. You can toggle your status on or off by using the slider accordingly.
Note: The process is different if you want to deactivate Facebook Messenger completely.
Do You Stay Invisible on Facebook Messenger?
Why does Facebook make it so difficult to go offline while using its various chat-based products? It’s so complicated that very few users probably bother to make the changes.
Indeed, compare the process on Facebook to an app like Skype, which makes it easy to change your status, and it’s easy to conclude that Facebook has ulterior motives.
Did you know it was so hard to go offline on Facebook? Do you even use Facebook Messenger or are you too worried about how much Facebook knows about you? Either way we hope you’ve learned something from this article.
Image Credit: Patrick Foto/Shutterstock